The Cougars are back in town. Oh wait, not those Cougars. Utah plays host to the 19th-ranked Washington State Cougars this Saturday (3:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).
Here are six numbers to get you ready for the weekend’s matchup.
Washington State’s quarterback, Luke Falk, returns home as he prepares to lead his Washington State team against the Utah Utes. The senior quarterback holds the Pac-12 career passing record with 13,806 yards. Notably, that number also places him ninth most all-time. High school football fans should not be surprised seeing Falk atop any leaderboard. As a senior at Logan High, Falk threw for 3,618 passing yards to lead the state and also amassed 36 touchdown passes.
College football fans will not be surprised to see Falk atop any leaderboard either. With head coach Mike Leach running the program, pass yards tend to come in bunches. The Washington State Cougars are second in the FBS in total pass yards a game with 381, second only to Oklahoma and their Heisman-hopeful quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Speaking of great offensive showings, did anyone catch the Utah offense that played last week? Granted UCLA’s defense is a sore spot for any Bruin fan, but Utah actually moved the ball and was able to score points. The Ute offense gained 506 total yards last week. Last week’s offensive output was the first 500-yard game since the Utes defeated San Jose State on Sept. 16.
Last week’s game was not perfect. Utah continues to be plagued by penalties. Against UCLA alone they earned themselves a total of 10. Utah continues to climb the board toward the most-penalized team in the nation. Utah currently averages about eight a game, putting them in the top 15 most-penalized teams.
A potentially important number might come in the total touches that running back Zack Moss receives. In the three times that Moss has received 20 or more carries, he has broken the 100-yard barrier each time. Utah is 2-1 when he reaches the century mark. The one loss came in a 28-27 defeat to USC, a game that came down to a last-minute two-point conversion for the win. Moss looks to have solidified his role in the offense, and watch for him to get plenty of touches on Saturday; if not for anything other than keeping the Cougar offense off the field.
The last time Utah beat Washington State was in 2012. However, this is the first meeting between the two programs since 2014, a game that Ute fans might remember and more would like to forget. Utah held a 17-point lead at halftime, just to watch it dissipate and in the final minutes give up a game-winning touchdown to lose 28-27.
Prediction: If Utah holds Falk under 350 yards, the Utes come away victorious.
Cameron Wood is a graduate of Weber State University and a teacher and coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden, Utah. Email: [email protected]. Follow on twitter @camwood03.